MLAS 520.001, Seminar on the Human Experience: Strangers in Strange Lands

Instructor: Peg Downes, Ph.D.
Tuesdays, 6:00-8:30 p.m.

This course will involve students reading several pieces of fiction and non-fiction, and writing and discussing responses to these works, in order to help us better understand how people deal with "The Other," and with themselves becoming "The Other," as they experience foreignness.

MLAS 540.001, Seminar on the Individual and Society: Politics of War

Instructor: Bill Sabo, Ph.D.
Thursdays, 6:00-8:30 p.m.

Even though few enterprises seem to be as universally condemned as war, it persists as a widespread human activity. This remains one of civilization's most vexing paradoxes. Despite extensive study, there is no consensus as to why war is such an attractive means of resolving disputes. This semester we examine an array of ideas about war's causes, functions and consequences. Our purpose is to develop a systematic way of ordering these insights so we can think more clearly about the issue. In addition to introducing the different arguments, this course will help you improve your analytical skills and your understanding of what politics is all about. Class time will be used to examine some insightful writings, clarify the perspectives, evaluate the evidence marshaled in support of each claim and determine the implications of the different arguments.

MLAS 540.002, Seminar on the Individual and Society: Classic and Contemporary Readings in the African-American Experience

Instructor: Bill Haas, Ph.D.
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4:35-5:50 p.m.

W.E.B. DuBois indicated in 1903, "The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line." This course will explore to what degree the problem of the twenty first century is still the color line. A historical overview of the African American experience in the United States serves as the foundation for the analysis of the contemporary color line. Students will explore such issues as the meaning of race, class vs. race debate, symbolic racism, structure vs. cultural debate, whiteness of society, and assimilation and reparations.

MLAS 600.001, Contemporary Issues: Violence In Contemporary American Culture

Instructor: Melissa Burchard, Ph.D.
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4:35-5:50 p.m.

Whether or not we believe that violence in America (and elsewhere) is on the increase, it is uncontroversial that the contemporary world is a place of great violence of a variety of types and levels. Although there is general consensus that this is a problem, attempts to prevent or reduce violence tend either to remain at the level of rhetoric, or, where actually implemented, to be largely unsuccessful. This course looks at contemporary violence in the attempt to analyze the conditions which are producing and sustaining it.

The course will proceed in a number of units. The first unit will be dedicated to two tasks: one is creating a shared vocabulary and discourse of violence so that we will understand in similar ways some definitions, terms and examples of what violence is, and the other is examining some ideas about the "roots" of violence and the social conditions which have made violence seem "natural" and "necessary." In the second unit we turn to a discussion of interpersonal violence and the effects violence has on both perpetrators' and sufferers' sense of self and ability to function. A third unit turns to an analysis of war and political violence in a continuation of the discussion of the "necessity" of violence at the social/political level. In the fourth unit we explore the ways in which institutions of popular culture and the power of popular narratives contribute to the maintenance and perpetuation of a culture of violence. Here we will look at the cultural phenomenon of the Harry Potter stories. The task of the final unit is to actively construct concrete responses to violence, especially through the articulation of contemporary norms of identity and morality. For this task, we will read a number of selections on reserve, and also refer back to what has been articulated through course readings and discussion during the semester.

MLAS 670.001, Scholarly Inquiry Seminar

Instructor: Catherine Mitchell, Ph.D.
Tuesdays, 6:00-8:30 p.m.

This course aims to get each student started on an MLAS project or thesis. We will deal with practical issues such as finding a topic, using appropriate methodologies and the final presentation of results. The course will survey the nature of scholarly inquiry in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Students will interview faculty scholars from across the UNC Asheville campus and describe the nature of research and/or creative activity in their disciplines. During the course students will develop a topic, do a great deal of reading in that topic, enlist a member of faculty to serve as chair of the project or thesis committee, write a literature review describing existing knowledge on the topic and write a research proposal for submission to the Graduate Council.